NUCLEAR FREE JAPAN BY NEXT SPRING ? NUCLEAR INDUSTRY IS GOING DOWN SHOOTING.
27 Jan 2012
AND THEN THERE WAS ONE (1)…NPP IN JAPAN. Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s, Shimane Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), in Shimane Prefecture may be THE LAST NUKE STANDING, BUT ONLY UNTIL APR 2012. At the current attrition rate for reactors; supposedly for safety checks. That was well received by Nuclear Industry opponents still leery about the Mar 2011 Fukushima tragedy, while adding to concern about potential blackouts, factory shutdowns, and economic pandemonium.
TWO MORE REACTORS NOW CLOSED Chugoku Flectric power Co. shut the No. 2 reactor at its Shimane NPP on 27 Jan 2012. TEPCO No. 5 reactor unit at its Kashiwazaki Kariwa station was idled on 25 Jan 2012. That leaves only three(3) reactors in operation; and these, are due to go off-line for regular checks during the next three(3) months.
“WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT NUCLEAR POWER” Said Yuji Nishiyama, an analyst with Credit Suisse Group AG. “If we experience a zero-nuclear situation, the argument that we don’t need nuclear power anymore will be stronger…But, at the moment we cannot live without nuclear power. We may not need 50 reactors, but we do need about 10 or 20…Japan’s becoming free of nuclear power within three months would have a psychological effect”. Yeah! - worldwide, and for good reason. They peed in the bathwater!
DE-MOTHBALLING OIL OR GAS THERMOELECTRIC PLANTS THE ANSWER? Yuji Nishiyama said: We do have a number of mothballed power plants, but it takes time to reactivate those generators – sometimes years…and these plants often have low-utilization rates. Some cannot be used at night.” Companies including Toyota Motor Corp. and Panasonic Corp. escaped power cuts after they were ordered to cut consumption by 15 % in some areas during last year’s summer when demand peaked. Households were asked to regulate use of air conditioners. The restrictions were lifted as temperatures cooled.
PETROLEUM, OR LIQUEFIED (NAT) GAS are Japan’ proven fuels of choice for thermoelectric generation. However, the cost of burning oil to generate power, is almost twice that of gas. Before the Fukushima tragedy, Japan relied on about 30% NPPs for generation, and had a goal of 50%, but now, as most of its NPPs have been shut down, Utilities have been forced to rely more on oil, or gas-fired power-plants to make up the difference; That change, has added about $34 billion to the country’s import bill. And then…there is the cost of maintaining, and staffing 50+ idled NPPs. HMM!- They can’t win for loosing, and abhor long-range planning for their future. Frankly Japan’s Government seems politically sterile and irresolute, and its people in denial. Wake-up Japan!, destiny waits for no one. “Kicking the can down the road” is no solution!!.
TEPCO’S FINANCIAL HURDLES Include three conditions set by its lenders: 1. Reactor restarts, and conditions 2 and 3: TEPCO’s acceptance of a capital injection from a State-run Fund; However, TEPCO’s management is resisting giving up control to the State Fund even as it faces collapse under the weight of compensation claims, and cleanup costs for the Triple melt-down tragedy which may burden them for 40 years or more. It is no wonder TEPCO’s shares fell 1.4 % to 210 yen on 27 Jan 2012. TEPCO’s stock is down about 90 % since 10 Mar 2011 (the day before the tragedy).
TEPCO ALSO THINKS IT IS INDISPENSABLE TO JAPAN. I have news for them – Neither their Prefecture Governors, or the Japanese people, want them back in operation. They have said so in no uncertain terms. TEPCO seems principally worried about loosing the remaining 10% of their financial worth. This seems incomprehensible when one considers the huge remediation expenses facing them for their Fukushima mess. Perhaps they are hoping for a miracle, or some of their “friends of old” in government to bail them out still. No Way!! When you are down (TEPCO really is), no one wants to help, foreign or domestic. After all, they never shared their profit when they were riding high, and hoping to control a sizable part of the world’s nuclear industry. Their unbridled ambition and arrogance was their undoing.
EVEN SO…JAPANESE GOVERNORS SAY: NO WAY!! Notwithstanding the higher cost to the utilities, local governments that normally had approved NPPs have balked. Understandably, Yuhei Sato, Governor of Fukushima (where TEPCO has two(2) NPPs, including the wrecked Dai No.1 plant), has vowed to make the region a NUCLEAR-FREE ZONE. Hirohiko Izumida, Governor of Niigata (where TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant is located), said he will “never” negotiate with TEPCO regarding Nuke restarts until all of the deficiencies exposed by the Fukushima accident are explained and corrected”. I reckon it is going to be a cold day in hell!
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE (3)…With one exception, no reactors taken off-line since the 11 Mar 2011 tragedy have been allowed to restart. Now they await results of so-called NPP “stress tests”; However, with public opinion running strongly against restarting NPPs, Pro- Nuke persons in Japan are getting very nervous.. “Trade and Industry” Minister Yukio Edano said Japan may have no nuclear plants operating this summer, and the government is preparing measures (no telling what measures – they plan a lot!) to avoid power shortages. Minister Edano added: “The safety issue is more important than power supply concerns”. Do you think he means it? I do not!
Thanks to Bloomberg for quotations, 27 Jan 2012
JAPAN’S KANSAI ELECTRIC FEELS INDISPENSABLE. Kansi Electric Power Co. - Main supplier to Japan’s second-largest industrial region, expects a 9.5 % energy shortfall in Feb 2012. Kansai powers Sharp Corp. and Panasonic factories, is asking customers to voluntarily reduce consumption by more than 10 % this winter. Kyushu Electric Power Co. will also be short of capacity after it shutters its last reactor on-line for maintenance. Nishiyama said; “In Kansai it’s a nightmare…Saving energy is not enough to save the region…We need to think about restarting nuclear power plants more seriously…I think we go to zero before we get restarts, Kansai may have a 19 % (energy) shortfall…It’s not going to be one switch is flipped and all of them come back on…Still, if you get a certain amount back on-line(NPPs) you’re not going to have a horrible problem. If you have zero, that leads to a significant economic impact.” – SEE THERE!, Industry and people can’t do without us. We’ll see!! – Next March.
TEPCO EXPECTS THE TRADE MINISTRY TO EXTEND REACTOR LIVES, AND ALLOW NUKE RE-STARTS They are banking on so called: Nuke “Stress-tests” which are NOT YET Industrially standardized, or their real impact on public safety understood. TEPCO said on 15 Jan 2012 that it has submitted to the government results of its stress tests on Reactors No. 1 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki plant. The tests set up by the “Trade and Industry Ministry” aim to show how prepared a nuclear plant is to withstand natural or man-made disasters. Kashiwazaki, was the world’s largest nuclear station, has yet to restart three(3) of its seven (7) NPPs units since a 2007, when a quake led to a radioactive water spill: Since then, the work to upgrade Kashiwazaki’s earthquake defenses would seem to make it one of the better stations to restart. Penn Bowers, a utilities analyst with CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets said: “Kashiwazaki’s units have been retrofitted to a quake prevention standard that’s probably the best out there…If it didn’t have the TEPCO name out there it would probably be on the top of the list for restart”.
KANSAI AND TEPCO HAVE WASTED TIME Looking for alternative energy generation. It seems Nuclear generation is all they want to know. If that is so, they will soon be as extinct as dinosaurs. Those that fail to adapt to change, are doomed to extinction. And still: No one in Japan talks about nuclear waste disposal. They are up to their eyebrows in it!